Pubdate: Wed, 19 Feb 2003
Source: Oshkosh Northwestern (WI)
Copyright: 2003 Gannett Co., Inc.
Contact: 224 State Street Oshkosh, WI 54901
Bookmark: (Incarceration)


This is in reference to the story, "Too Many Inmates, Too Few Dollars," on 
Feb. 9. Wisconsin is not the only state grappling with overcrowded prisons. 
Many states facing budget shortfalls are pursuing alternatives to 
incarceration for non-violent drug offenders. A study conducted by the RAND 
Corporation found that every dollar invested in substance abuse treatment 
saves taxpayers $7.46 in societal costs. There is far more at stake than 
tax dollars.

The drug war is not the promoter of family values that some would have us 
believe. Children of inmates are at risk of educational failure, 
joblessness, addiction and delinquency. Not only do the children lose out, 
but society as a whole does too. Incarcerating non-violent drug offenders 
along side-hardened criminals is the equivalent of providing them with a 
taxpayer-funded education in criminal behavior.

Turning drug users into unemployable ex-cons is a senseless waste of tax 
dollars. It's time to declare peace in the failed drug war and begin 
treating all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the public health 
problem it is. Destroying the futures and families of citizens who make 
unhealthy choices doesn't benefit anyone.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A. Program Officer, Drug Policy Alliance Washington, DC 
via Internet
- ---
MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager